Why did you start your company? I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit, I think it came from my Grand-Dad and his Dad, Joseph Farris, who formed Farris Foundry in Springfield, Illinois. I have also been lucky to work for some excellent people in my career, particularly the two founders of www.purplemonkey.com At 45, I found myself having gone through three hospice scenarios with Parents and I have four children. I tried working part-time professionally, and it was amazing. The children only got sick on the days I was scheduled to work. In November of '04, I shattered my knee cap and was unable to walk for two months and drive for 4. It was during that time, I began to focus on building an online business. I wanted something I could do with my kids, that would teach them the basics of business, and keep my mind off the pain and frustration of not only not being able to walk but ride!
Why The Horse Industry? Like many little girls, you start out in life knowing you love horses more than anything else. I grew up in Decatur and Springfield Illinois, and had many friends with family farms. I was exposed to riding at a young age. I met my first BLM Mustang when I was about 11, and every year, it was my job to gentle them and get them ready to ride as I hung on for dear life, usually bareback and hanging on to mane, pretending I was a trick rider. I would run and vault over their hips, and kick them into a gallop across fields, bareback with a halter and lead rope. I bet they were glad I grew up. Unfortunately detasseling for DeKalb paid more, and my older years as a youth were spent bonding with corn plants. I was an Ag major at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale and graduated in 1982. I have spent several years working in Sales, Operations, Management and Human Resources for Monsanto, Frank's Nursery and Crafts, Chemlawn TrueGreen, and other non-industry related companies. I was 40 when I got my own horse. She has given hours of joy to my kids, and well, there really are no other people on earth, quite like horse people. It is an industry I am passionate about especially when you start talking rescue, therapy and education. Mustangs, standardbreds, Thoroughbreds, PMU foals and mares, and the many great rescue organizations all deserve our attention. If you are female and over 40, you should know what Premarin is made of and how, incase alternatives are an option.
Why treats and gift baskets? Honestly, I have always enjoyed making Easter baskets, and at one time thought about having kiosks in malls for the month before Easter and making personalized baskets. This is on online, year around version of that idea. I don't have to work in a mall, and my customers call, fax or email their orders. The horse treats happened as we like to bake and experimented with making treats for my own animals. I couldn't find what I wanted either in freshness, quality, or ingredients. Herbivores really do have needs not addressed by standard feeds. Besides, when is the last time you saw a beet-parsley treat forsale in the discount tack catalogues?
What is your favorite treat? Actually, the Roobios. They are wonderfully aromatic, and taste great! Yes, we have tasted them all, my son thinks they are great!
Do you grow your own herbs? Yes, we grow quite a bit of our own herbs, the chamomile, parsleys, chives, basil, mints, garlic, and we supplement from an organic grower.
Organic? But of course!
What do you do in your "spare" time? I volunteer and I advocate. There are several causes I consider important. In our industry Horse Rescue and adoption are near and dear to my heart. So are the Mustangs. ASPCA is great at getting the information out so people can see what the issues are, contact their Legislators, send letters and make a difference. One example was the Rahall-Whitfield Amendment to the Fiscal Year 2006 Interior Appropriations bill. That is not a topic I would normally hear and say "Oh, I should get involved." But ASPCA made it readable, and after you sifted through the legal mumblese guess what? It was to prevent the sale and slaughter of wild free-roaming horses and burros. I have letters back from my Congresswoman, Judy Biggert. One person really can make a difference. I also am a Girl Scout Leader, have taught numerous years as a Junior High Youth Group Leader and Sunday School teacher, volunteer at our local PADS homeless shelter, Vacation Bible School, our kids Swim Team, the schools, their Football and Cheerleading organizations, www.adaptaplatoon.org and www.operationpaperback.org and something else that I have forgot.
Do you have any hobbies? I write and am a continual learner. I have taken writing classes, submitted to different Childrens's magazines, worked on curriculum for the Presbyterian Church USA, and written Short-Stories. I also took Juli Realy's Horse Training Program out in Marengo.
What is your educational background? I received my BS from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale in Plant and Soil Science & General Agriculture with a minor in Botany. My first Master's started out to be an MBA, but I switched to MHRM (Master's of Human Resource Management) half way through at Keller Graduate School of Management where I received the 1995 Capstone Award. I also attended two full years of seminary at McCormick Theological Seminary in Hyde Park.
What's next? Well, hopefully keep working and developing my marketing plan, and eventually undertake an actual retail store in addition to the Horse Fairs and online market. I would also like to take a class as a Grant Writer to be able to expand some of our services.
Any thoughts on Staying at Home vs. Working? No. No matter what you do, you will drive yourself nuts asking, "Is this the right thing to do? For me? For my child? For our family?" You do what you have to do, for your family and your own sanity. Life really is short, and no one is promised tomorrow. I have done it every way imaginable. I have done day care centers, with my first child, Grandparents with my second child, after school programs, The YMCA, stayed home with the younger ones, had home day care though a family friend and every combination imaginable. You do what works for you. There are trade offs. For a career woman, you really do lose your edge taking years out. You also miss the T-Ball games, the after school birthday parties and volunteering for everything imaginable if you don't. If you stop to stay home, you risk falling into the Mommy Track nightmare. Your skills don't stay sharp, you don't get to network, your salary might take a dive and the worst? People (usually ones without kids) ask you what you have been doing the last five years before putting you into the round file. So, my advice? Do what makes you happy and works best for your family. Sometimes, you get creative about paying bills, and thats when you are forced to ask yourself, "What do I really want to do?" If you are doing what you are passionate about, and are in balance, most likely it will be working out on the homefront as well.
Any Advice? Make a difference in what you do and how you live. Locational Listing of Horse Rescue Organizations